A wide area network (WAN) is a computer network that covers a wide geographic area such as a city, a country, or even the world. WANs can be used to connect sites over a long distance, such as connecting an office in New York to an office in London. Most of the large organizations and service providers make good use of WANs.
A WAN connects various devices and Local Area Networks (LANs) over long distances, usually using public switched telephone networks (PSTN), dedicated leased lines, or satellite links. WANs are used to connect different types of devices, including routers, switches, and computers. There are a variety of WAN topologies that are used to connect sites. The most common type of WAN topology is a point-to-point WAN. You will learn about it further in this guide of CCNA course series.
Other types of WAN topologies include multipoint WANs, mesh WANs, and virtual private LANs (VPLANs). This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of WAN topologies, including the different types of WAN topologies and their benefits.
What is a WAN?
If we expand the term WAN, it stands for Wide Area Network (WAN). A WAN is a computer network that extends over a large geographic area such as between cities, countries, etc. So, WANs are used to connect geographically separate WANs.
For example, if a company has an office in New York, India, and Toronto, each of them is a Local Area Network (LAN) and the connections between them form a Wide Area Network (WAN).
Although the Intenet can be called a WAN, WANs are typically used by large organizations, such as universities and corporate enterprises, as well as service providers. A WAN can be used to connect multiple nodes and can be used for file sharing and communication.
The Different Types of Topologies in WANs
There are several different types of topologies in WAN architectures. The four main types of WAN topologies are:
- Point-to-point WANs
- Multipoint WANs
- Mesh WANs
- Virtual Private LANs (VPLANs)
Let us cover each one of them one by one.
1. Point-to-Point (PPP) WANs:
The most common type of WAN topology in WAN architecture is a point-to-point WAN. Let’s learn about it in detail.
- These connections help in forming a connection between LANs and service provider WANs. It also connects LAN segments with a business/domestic organization’s networks.
- A point-to-point WAN consists of two routers that are connected by a single link.
- Point-to-point WANs are often used to connect two sites that are located far apart.
- It is usually called a serial connection or a leased-line connection because the WAN connection lines are leased or rented out typically from a telephone company and are leased by the company for establishing a PPP WAN connection.
- PPP is an open-standard technology.
- The main advantage of using the PPP connection is that it transports Layer 3 packets across a data-link layer point-to-point link.
- PPP can be used in fiber-optic lines, and satellite transmission.
2. Multipoint WANs:
- Multipoint WANs allow for multiple nodes to be connected at the same time.
- The channel is therefore shared among multiple devices and nodes.
- The network bandwidth is utilized to its maximum capacity.
- There is one transmitter and many receivers present in such a WAN topology.
- Since the communication channel is shared, it does not provide any security or privacy.
3. Mesh WANs:
- Mesh WANs connect multiple nodes to each other in different ways.
- This topology is expensive compared to other WAN topologies.
- WANs are typically partial mesh networks.
- These are secure unlike multipoint WANs as their single nodes are easily replaced.
4. Virtual Private LANs (VPLANs):
- VPLANs provide secure connections between two sites.
- It is an Eternet-based point-to-multipoint Layer 2 VPN that allow you to connect various Ethernet LANs.
- The traffic travels across service provider networks.
The Benefits of a WAN
WANs offer several benefits, including improved access and availability of resources, enhanced scalability, improved performance, and higher levels of security.
WANs also allow organizations to access centralized resources, such as databases and networks. This allows for improved scalability as an organization grows.
Additionally, WANs allow for bandwidth upgrades as the need arises. WANS are typically secured and encrypted, providing an extra layer of security for an organization’s data and resources.
WANs also make it easier to access centralized data and resources, improving performance.
How to set up a WAN?
Setting up a WAN involves several steps, including choosing the best architecture for the application, configuring the hardware, and configuring the software. When choosing the best architecture, it is important to consider the following:
- The various types of applications to be used
- The amount of traffic
- The quantity of data required to be transferred
- The security requirements of the organization
Once the best architecture is chosen, the hardware needs to be configured and the software needs to be installed. This includes setting up routers and switches, configuring the network settings, securing the network, and setting up firewalls.
WAN management and security
Once a WAN is set up, it is important to ensure that it is managed and secured properly. This includes making sure that the routers and switches are updated with the latest security patches, as well as monitoring traffic and restricting access to the network.
Firewalls can be used to restrict access to the network and can be configured to alert users if suspicious activity is detected. Additionally, antivirus software can be used to detect and remove malicious software.
Users should also be trained on how to properly use the WAN and how to recognize potential security threats.
WAN architecture is an important part of any organization’s information technology infrastructure. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of WAN topologies used in WAN architecture, including the different types of WAN topologies available, how to set up a WAN, and how to manage and secure a WAN.
By understanding the different types of WANs and how to set up, manage, and secure them, organizations can ensure that their WANs are secure and that they are getting the most out of their WANs.
Stay tuned for more blogs for the CCNA 200-301 series!